Guide to the Diaries of Reverend Henry Welchman (as filmed by the AJCP)



National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record

Created: 2018

Collection Summary

Welchman, Henry Palmer, Reverend
Diaries of Reverend Henry Welchman (as filmed by the AJCP)
Date Range
1892 - 1895
Collection Number
2 items (2 volumes)
Language of Materials
Australian Joint Copying Project
The Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) online portal was created with the assistance of the Australian Public Service Modernisation Fund, 2017-2020. The National Library of Australia gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the other foundation AJCP partners, the State Library of New South Wales and The National Archives of the UK, and all other organisations which supported the work of the AJCP, the world's most extensive collaborative copying project, operating from 1948 to 1997.


Scope and Contents

Journals, July 1892 to Nov. 1893 and Dec. 1893 to May 1895, giving an account of life in the Melanesian Islands, recording treatment of diseases and incidents in his life as missionary and teacher.

The entries in both diaries are generally quite detailed and provide a full record of Welchman's daily activities, his relations with his missionary colleagues and the islanders, and his observations of Melanesian life. There are numerous references to church services and attendances, sermons, baptisms, confirmations, marriages and burials, Sunday schools, schools and the training of teachers, Welchman's medical duties and treatment of the sick and injured, his work on translating and printing catechisms, hymns and other works into Bugotu, gardens and agricultural work on Norfolk Island, the management of stores, Welchman's work as a mediator in family disputes and in feuds and conflict between various groups of islanders, cruises among the islands and journeys into the interior of Santa Isabel, ship arrivals, court cases, relations with traders, ethical and religious discussions, festivities, dances, music and feasts, and the weather.

Among the many missionaries mentioned in the diaries are Robert Codrington, John Palmer, Robert P. Wilson, Charles Browning, A.E.C. Forrest, Richard Comins and Walter Ivens.

Conditions Governing Access

Available for Access.

Conditions Governing Use

Many of the records digitised as part of the AJCP are still in copyright. Readers wishing to publish or reproduce documents should seek permission, in the first instance, from the owner of the original material.

Preferred Citation

Acknowledgement of use of this material should refer to the location of the original material and to the Australian Joint Copying Project.

Items from this collection should include references to the location of the original material and to the AJCP nla.obj number, which serves as the online identifier for the digital copy.

Example: M Series: Journal of Capt. James Cook, 18 February-23 September 1770, British Library Add. MS 27885 (AJCP ref:

Archival History

Filmed at the private of Reverend W.F. Browning, Oxfordshire, as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project, 1971 (AJCP Reel: M728). Original microfilm digitised as part of the NLA AJCP Online Delivery Project, 2017-2020.

Existence and Location of Originals

The private residence of Reverend W.F. Browning, Parish House, Greatworth, Oxfordshire.

Existence and Location of Copies

The original AJCP microfilm of the records filmed from this collection is available at the National Library of Australia [] as well as other institutions holding AJCP microfilm.

M805 and M806 contain copies of some Welchman correspondence 1887-89 and his diaries Jan. 1889 to July 1892, and June 1896 to Nov. 1908. Some of the correspondence was written from Norfolk Island where he stayed for more than a year and became interested in the Mota language.

Finding Aid Note

This finding aid is a revised online version of the original finding aid prepared by the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP), published by the National Library of Australia in 2018. The original AJCP finding aids were unpublished typescripts or photocopies available from libraries that held copies of the original microfilm.

Dates used in this finding aid refer to the date range of the records selected for filming rather than to the date range of the Series or Files.


Robert Codrington, John Palmer; Robert P. Wilson; Charles Browning; A.E.C. Forrest; Richard Comins; Walter Ivens; Anglican Church: Melanesia; Medicine; Melanesian Mission; Missions and missionaries: Pacific Islands; Santa Isabel Island; Siota, Solomon Islands; Solomon Islands: missions; Welchman, Henry, Rev.; Diary


Originally cited in Australian Joint Copying Project Handbook. Part 8: Miscellaneous (M) Series. Third Edition, published 1998. Entry 484, pp. 188-189.

Biographical / Historical

Henry Palmer Welchman (1850-1908) was born in Lichfield, Staffordshire, and was educated at Queen's College, Birmingham. He qualified as a surgeon in 1876 and worked in his father's practice in Lichfield. He was a licensed lay reader and preacher and had contacts with former staff of the Melanesian Mission, including Bishop J.R. Selwyn. In 1888 he joined the Melanesian Mission as a doctor-missionary. He was at first stationed at Santa Cruz in the Solomon Islands and in 1890 moved to Santa Isabel Island. He was ordained as a deacon in 1892 and as a priest in 1893 and for some years divided his time between Santa Isabel and Norfolk Islands. He devoted much of his time to translating the Bible, Book of Common Prayer and hymns into Bugotu, one of the main languages on Santa Isabel.

In 1896 Welchman married Helen Rossiter, whose family lived on Norfolk Island, but she died six months later. He continued to live on Santa Isabel and also spent several months each year at Siota on Nggela Island, where he developed medical facilities and taught at St Luke's School. He opened a new mission station on the nearby island of Lilihigua. Due to failing health, Welchman left Melanesia in 1901 and spent his last years in England and New Zealand.

Item Descriptions

Diary of Henry Welchman, 24 July 1892 - 30 November 1893 (File 1)

1 item

The first diary opens when Welchman was working at Santa Isabel. It describes the visit of H. Montgomery, the Bishop of Tasmania (Sept. 1892), Welchman's return to Norfolk Island (Oct. 1892), his training for the priesthood, his journey to New Zealand (June 1893), his ordination as a priest by Bishop W.G. Cowie at Auckland (25 June 1893), his first communion services and sermons, missionary meetings, discussions about the future of the Melanesian Mission, travels in New Zealand including visits to Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Nelson and Napier, his return to Norfolk Island (Aug. 1893), and a cruise in the Solomon Islands including visits to Ulawa, Sepi, Savo and Vatilau (Sept.-Oct. 1893).

Diary of Henry Welchman, 1 December 1893 - 31 May 1895 (File 2)

1 item

The first part of the second diary also records Welchman's life in the mission at Santa Isabel before moving to Norfolk Island in May 1894. It refers to news of the appointment of Cecil Wilson as Bishop of Melanesia (April 1894), Welchman's first meeting with Wilson (27 June 1894), synod meetings, the proposed industrial college at Siota, dealings with Pitcairn Islander families such as the Nobbs, Quintal and Buffet families, Welchman's association with the Rossiter Family and his marriage proposal to Helen Rossiter (9 May 1895), engagement celebrations, and his voyage back to Santa Isabel (May 1895).